This is a type of hallucination which is called Formication. In these types of cases, people feel there are bugs under their skin. Sometimes they even damage their skin by excessive itching or cleaning. Like any other hallucinations, this problem can be seen in schizophrenia cases.
What Is Formication?
Formication is the feeling of insects crawling under the skin while, in reality, there are no bugs or insects. This kind of mental condition is defined as a delusional infestation, basically a false belief of some crawling sensation.
People with this mental condition believe that the bugs underneath their skin are real. Even though people around them consistently assure them that this is nothing but their imagination. This makes the formication treatment really difficult.
What causes Formication?
Formication is one of those things you don’t think about unless you experience it yourself. Most people are familiar with the creepy crawling sensation that accompanies some types of skin irritation like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. For others, however, it feels like bugs crawling under their skin. While most cases go away within a few days, some patients develop chronic, persistent itching and discomfort.
The cause of Formication isn’t well understood. Still, experts do know that it often develops alongside other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and an autism spectrum disorder. In fact, researchers estimate that up to 20% of people with psychosis suffer from delusions of insects crawling beneath their skin.
What are the possible complications of Formication?
Diabetic neuropathy or Lyme disease, which causes Formication, can lead to the following complications:
- Slowly healing cuts and wounds
- Sensitivity loss
- Abscesses and ulcers
- Diseases of the heart
- The condition of the kidneys
A common complication of Formication is cuts, scabs, and open wounds caused by constant scratching. These cuts can be infected with bacteria or viruses, which can lead to the following:
- Infection or pus from a wound
- Bleeding that does not stop
- Over 101°F (38°C) fever
It is possible to develop delusional parasitosis from Formication caused by neurological disorders or the use of psychoactive substances like ecstasy. In this situation, you believe that real insects are crawling on your body.
How is Formication treated?
Formication has several causes, and the treatment depends on the cause. For fibromyalgia, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease, long-term treatment may be necessary to manage symptoms and complications. When Formication results from skin cancer, radiation therapy may be effective.
Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may help reduce crawling sensations in some patients. To prevent acute itching episodes, take these right after the sensation starts.
If Formication is caused by drug use, quitting it may help stop the sensation for good. Please consult your doctor before discontinuing a prescription drug. They may recommend an alternative medication that does not cause Formication if you need it.
Cocaine or meth addiction can be treated through rehabilitation treatment. As a withdrawal symptom, Formication during rehabilitation can also be managed. Various support groups are available for people struggling with drug addiction. Having a community to share your experiences with can be very helpful when you are attempting to quit using drugs.